How many PlayBooks does RIM need to sell to be considered a success? The mass media will point to iPad sales numbers and note that the PlayBook sold less (which it will) than the iPad. I expect many in the media to label the PlayBook a failure when it even fails to surpass the Samsung Galaxy Tab in first month sales. But does not being number one mean you’re a failure? To start with, let’s give some tablet sales numbers for context.
The iPad saw very strong sales to start and continued growth through the middle part of 2010 and sales levelling off in Apple’s Q4 (Aug-Oct) — though still impressive.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab has been on the market for about 2 months and has crossed the 1,000,000 mark in sales. That works out to 500,000 per month in the brief window we have to look at.
What if RIM sells 250,000 PlayBooks per month? Is that a failure, or a success? Was RIM successful selling mobile phones in 2007? 2008? 2009? Most would say yes, however relative to the top dogs, they didn’t fare well. Nokia sold about 441 MILLION phones in 2009. RIM? 34.5 million. Nokia sold 12 phones for every 1 BlackBerry sold (#2 Samsung sold ~235 million and #3 LG sold ~122 million).
Ok you say, but RIM sells ‘Smartphones’ not regular old cell phones… Nokia sold 67.8 million of those in 2009.
So in years where RIM was considered very successful, the market leader sold almost twice as many Smartphones as there were BlackBerries sold… and that’s after RIM had 10 years to perfect devices and gain market share. You can segment a market any which way and come up with a winner and a loser, saying you’re #1 is nice for marketing but doesn’t matter as much in the real world.
So what does that mean for PlayBook? PlayBook is a tablet not a smartphone. Is PlayBook in the same market segment as iPad? or the Samsung Galaxy Tab? What about all the other Android tablets that are sure to come to market in 2011? Are they all one big market segment or will the market segments get re-defined in 2011 like they were when ‘Smartphones’ were singled out from general mobile phone market?
What about a ‘Business Tablet’ segment? If RIM sells 250,000 per month in the Business Tablet segment, that’s probably decent, even if in the overall tablet market, they trail the market leader significantly.
Think about what RIM is actually selling with the PlayBook when it’s released next year, and who their advertising is targeting. The image in the header of this article (from RIM’s website) doesn’t even mention gaming. Just because some media want to put the PlayBook and iPad head-to-head, doesn’t mean the people making purchasing decisions use the same comparisons.